Salesforce alternatives: 5 CRM services for small businesses

Is Salesforce overkill for your small business? These Web-based CRM services help you handle contacts and tasks

By Shiyuan Deng, PC World |  Cloud Computing, CRM, Salesforce.com

Though Landslide's main selling point is its user experience, this CRM doesn't skimp on powerful features. It is the only service in our round-up that offers syncing with Google products, including email, contacts, and calendars. In addition, you can sync your Landslide data with data in QuickBooks and in Microsoft Outlook (including email, contacts, and tasks). In running your business, you may have built various management systems (including QuickBooks) into your workflow, and you can't readily abandon them every time you discover something new. One Landslide's many positives is that it fits into an existing framework developed around other programs.

Particularly for CRM newcomers who are unfamiliar with the terminology but who still need a program with features approaching those of Zoho CRM, Landslide is a great, cost-effective option.

Pros: Full-service, feature-rich CRM program; easy to set up and use; syncs with QuickBooks, Google apps (including email, contacts, and calendar), and Microsoft Outlook; iPhone-, iPad-, and Android-compatible; dedicated mobile website

Cons: Relatively high price

Use if: Usability is very important to you, and you want a full-service CRM program.

SugarCRM

(Starting at $360 per user per year; $540 Corporate, $720 Enterprise, and $1200 Ultimate options also available)

A full-service CRM program that offers easy setup and generous technical assistance, the open-source SugarCRM also has extensive third-party applications and plug-in support.

The main quality that distinguishes SugarCRM from Landslide is its community of developers. Since it's open source, users can change SugarCRM without limitation and can build on existing extension projects in any way they want. If this kind of flexibility appeals to you, SugarCRM is a solid alternative to Zoho CRM and Landslide.

One potential usability issue is that SugarCRM encourages you to assign dollar figures and percentages to everything--accounts, opportunities, leads, and contacts. If you operate in an industry where accounting for new leads with a monetary amount makes sense--say, for making bids for construction contracting--this is a good program for you. But in my business, when I'm exploring a new contract with a major retailer, it doesn't make sense to attribute a dollar amount to that relationship until I have a decent amount of sales history to evaluate.

Pros: Very flexible; iPhone-, iPad-, and Android-compatible; dedicated mobile website; syncs with Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook, and QuickBooks; good technical support; access to open-source extension applications

Cons: Not suited for every kind of business; relatively expensive

Use if: You want a super-customizable CRM program with great growth potential as your company expands.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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